Cancer and meat

Meyken Houppermans, PhD. CrossFit Level 3 Trainer
Founder and Head Coach
Eating more than 150 grams of red meat per day can cause colon cancer.

Dietary heme

Reseach from Wageningen University and Groningen University shows that eating 150 grams or more of red meat per day can cause colon cancer.

Initially it was thought that this was caused by the saturated fat in meat, but the real cause is ‘haem’. Haem is the substance that gives the red color to red blood cells and is the carrier of oxygen in the blood. Haem irritates the intestinal wall in such way that after years the risk of colon cancer increases. The saturated fats in meat enhance this effect.

The amount of haem in beef is 10 times as high as in white meat such as chicken. In pork this is 5 times as high. Regardless of whether the meat is raw or cooked.

Although this research was carried out among rats, similar results may be expected in humans. The intestine of a rat seems similar to that of a human. Moreover, it appears that in Japan a significant increase in colon cancer occurred, from the moment the Japanese switched from an eating pattern of fish and fiber to Western food with saturated fat and meat and low in fiber and vegetables.

Read more about How bad is eating meat?

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Ijsennagger, Noortje. (2012). Red meat and colon cancer. how dietary heme initiates hyperprofileration. Wageningen University.

Sesink, A. L. A. (2000). Red meat and colon cancer: a possible role for heme. University of Groningen].